Friday, January 29, 2010

World Championship Stripes You’re In

Project Runway’s Heidi and Tim said it. “You’re in!” Club riders and amateur racers rejoice, its official. We all know they’re referring to World Championship stripes. Even though we’re fat and slow, according to international rules set forth during fashion week in Paris, you can now wear your World Championship stripes without fear of scrutiny or scorn from fellow cyclists. A full explanation is below. The World Championships of Cyclocross are coming to Louisville in 2013, with Masters Worlds in 2012 and 2013. The stripes are now fair game in North America.

Traditionally, we talk behind the backs of those who wear the coveted stripes while riding without earning them. Who does he think he is, Paolo Bettini? I on the other hand, do own rainbow striped clothing, but enough about my Mork and Mindy suspender fetish. I also own a pair of Sock Guy World Championship striped socks…and they’re coming out of the closet! Hellooooo! The World Championships are coming to town, officially making it cool to wear your rainbow striped apparel till at least 2013. This of course is according to the exception listed in section 32, paragraph 4a of the International Cycling code of conduct regarding fashion which reads: “only current or former world champions should wear the rainbow stripes while riding, except when the World Championships are on the continent of your residences, then, and only during non-competitive events, it’s fair game beotches!” Tripple snap on that sista.

However, let it be known that World Champ clothing isn’t always flattering. On gloves, hats and socks, white with rainbow stripes can look pretty dang dapper. However, put them horizontally on a white jersey, and the object in the mirror starts looking like it has a giant rear. Sadly, come 2012 and 2013, a few people will leave Louisville having accomplished the goal of a lifetime albeit looking like a newly stuffed rainbow striped sausage from their country of origin. Bert Grabsch say what? Heidi Klum and the fashionistas are correct. Dark and vertical striped clothing makes you look thinner, because certainly white and horizontal stripes make Cadel Evans look like he had too much vegemite during the off season.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

What’s It Worth? Not As Much As You Think

Just like watching a home show on HGTV, the first step in selling your old crap, is to realize it’s no longer your old crap. What you paid, what you think it’s worth, and how cool you think it is really doesn’t matter. So, what’s this used Easton EC90 SLX Carbon Fork worth? $450? $250? $125? I’ve learned, the trick to selling off your old bike components and parts is to realize that they're worth only as much as you can get for them. It doesn’t matter if full retail was $450. No matter where you sell it, you’re going to get market value for it. Right now, sitting on the bench in my man cave, this fork is worthless. The first step is to come to grips with that fact.

Some people have told me they use half of retail to gauge the worth of their items. These are the same goofballs on HGTV that don’t realize that not everybody digs their drapes. They say if it’s just a few 2- 4 years old, you should be able to get half of retail for it. Consider this; a brand new Easton EC90 SLX carbon fork has a retail list price of around $450. Retail mark up just about anywhere is somewhere between 40-50%. Pretty much, that fork was worth only about $250 brand new, half of retail, the day it was purchased. Secondly, with manufacturer retail employee purchase programs, chances are quite a few people picked up the fork brand new for somewhere around $250. Lastly, it’s pretty evident, because there’s plenty of brand new Easton EC90 SLX forks on eBay right now going for $250-$300. Now what’s half of retail? $125-150.

However, when pricing used items, you can’t start from the top down. Start from the bottom up. That is, just like a house, if you really want to sell it. So let’s do it. As the Easton EC90 SLX sits on the shelf in my garage, it’s worth $0. Sh**! We need to make that go up and get a realistic idea of what somebody might pay for it.

So, I watched identical or similar items on eBay to see what they’d actually sold for. Keep in mind the “buy it now” price or the starting price doesn’t count. That’s not what the item sold for. Those are the yahoos from HGTV who have this lofty number in their heads based on coffee talk with the girls. So, like selling a house, I took the time to get a few comps. I watched a few auctions until they ended. Recently there were about 20 Easton EC90 SLX forks on eBay, most new, a handful used. If by some weird chance there weren’t any Easton EC90 SLX forks on eBay, I’d find something similar, a top of the line fork from another manufacturer and/or the next step down from Easton like an EC90 SL to use to gauge a selling price.

When my watched items ended, two forks sold for $119 and $135, both with uncut steerer tubes. One listed at $199, didn’t get any bids. Right there, HGTV be dammed, that tells me at this moment, the fork isn’t worth anywhere near $199. At the very least, I should be okay with getting $119 for the fork, right? Wrong. If you sold it on EBay for $119, after you pay your EBay realtor fee, you’ll get around $110 or less in your pocket. At the very most I could expect $135, right? Nope. Consider that those buyers paid shipping closing costs too. If shipping was $10-$15, you might be able to sell the fork outside of EBay and get up to $150. So, now we know…an Easton EC90 SLX fork, in decent shape with an uncut steerer, is worth between $110 and $150 on the open market. That’s a $40 window for my fork. Or, is it?

Really, the window is a bit smaller and, considering my steerer is cut to 213mm, probably lower. For starters you know that the very least someone paid was $119 plus $10-15 shipping. That makes the out of pocket for the buyer $130-135. You also know that the most someone recently paid with shipping was $150 out of pocket. So the window is now about $20, between $130 and $150. Unfortunately, my fork has a tiny cosmetic nick on it and the steerer is cut to 213mm, a useable amount for most people, but still cut. To price my fork competitively, I’m probably looking at $120-$140. I’d list the fork for $140, and first try to sell it on Craigslist, Facebook, this blog or a cycling group site where I don't have to pay the eBay fees.

So how’s $140 sound to you. Seriously. Email here if you’d like to buy it. Click here for all the details.

Monday, January 25, 2010

The Cycling Miracle of Cincinnati

The light hath shown through my garage door, deep into the recesses where my man cave bike workshop resides. I have seen the light of the Madonna del Ghisallo, the patron saint of cycling. As of today, when I walk into a bike shop, mechanics with permanently blacked fingernails should bow their heads and raise their arms for I have performed a near cycling miracle. Eddie Merckx once said miracles don’t exist in sports. Eddie Merckx never saw the image of Christ in his morning toast. But, harketh! A miracle may hath taken place on my IF Planet X. Before I call Archbishop Pilarczyk to initiate the miracle confirmation, and start charging admission to pilgrims to witness the site of my miracle, you should know that this could just have been the simple discovery of a mortal’s initial mistake. I could be nothing more than a doof who undid a goof that went unnoticed by those with more expertise than thou. I prefer the former. All hail! Behold the Cycling Miracle of Cincinnati!

Almost as if Satan had possessed my Sram Red derailleur, since the beginning of the 2009 cyclocross season when I swapped the Sram Red from my road bike to my CX rig, I have had a devil of an issue with shifting on my steel IF Planet X cyclocross bike. The top 5-7 easier gears shifted okay, but the derailleur couldn’t move the chain to the harder gears of the cassette, as if the spring in the derailleur didn’t have enough tension on it to pull the slackened cable. The only way I could get it to shift into the harder gears was to manually wrangle the derailleur to pull toward the harder cogs on the cassette.

My first thought, demons. My second maybe the spring in the derailleur was worn out. However, it wasn’t even a year old and it’s freaking Sram Red for cripes sake. I called my favorite mechanic, who happens to have a giant tattoo of Jesus on his chest (for real). He said he’s seen this issue before with steel IF bikes and Sram. He suggested a holy water cleaning of the derailleur, cassette and chain, followed by a redressing of cables and housing. Like a bad pickup line, it sort of worked, but not exactly. So, at his suggestion, I brought the bike in to the shop where he pulled the shades, unbuttoned his shirt, exposed the full on Jesus and exercised the demons with a derailleur hanger straightener and a few other things in his little black exorcism bag.

The bike worked great! Angels sang as the sun pierced the clouds. I had a wonderful ride with crisp shifts in even crisper January air. The next day, I hit the Hyde Park Ride. It was lightly raining, but I needed a ride with the fast boys. It turned into a soaking sloppy sufferfest. Fingers went numb. I looked and felt like I had ridden Paris Roubaix. Near the end of the ride with 3 hours of wet road grit everywhere, my shifting went south again. Dejected, I was so wet and cold I had to ring the doorbell of my own house because I couldn’t get the key out of my jersey pocket with frozen fingers.

After warming up, I returned to the man cave to resurrect the beast. I cleaned everything, cables, pulleys, you name it. I lubed. I shouted, “Dear God why doesn’t a $300 derailleur work on an $1800 frame!” I still only had 6-7 gears on a 10sp cassette. Then I saw the light. If the derailleur spring didn’t seem like it had enough tension to pull the cable, what if I lessened the friction of the cable. I tinkered, pulling on the cable in the direction of the derailleur. Essentially feeding cable to the demonic derailleur, it shifted fine. I took out sections of housing, thinking that if I shortened or made the cable move through the housing easier, the derailleur would be able to pull it. I was getting hotter.

The last step, I unraveled my handlebar tape. The cable stop in the shifter had a tight fit and sort of a bend where it curved to send the cable along the bars. But, alas! With a Sram Red shifter, there are two options to run the cable out along the bars. (see photo) The tighter curved one ran the cable along the front of the bars. The straighter channel ran the cable to the rear of the bars. I switched it to run the cable to the rear of the bars and wah lah! Ten gears smoothly shifted. I heard harp music. Pretty blue Disney birdies sang and circled overhead. I thought I saw Fausto Coppi’s image on a shop rag. A miracle! If not, at the very least, maybe just maybe, a blessing from the Madonna del Ghisallo.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Heave-Ho The Boat Anchor, Buy My Easton EC90 SLX Fork

Was it you that left your road bike fork behind at the bike rack? I don’t blame you. That thing looks heavy. You’re probably sick of delivering the mail up steep climbs and heaving that massive thing up a curb or over a pothole. What a bitch. Sure, it’ll never break…simply because you never want to ride your bike with that thing on it. Even if you don’t have a fork that was made in a shipyard, maybe you have a boat anchor masquerading as a “carbon” fork with a clunky aluminum steerer tube, crown and/or dropouts. It’s time to heave-ho! I’d keep the rest of the bike and leave that relic behind at the bike rack too.

Consider this Easton EC90 SLX all carbon fork. It’s CNT Monocoque technology. Which means its soo light; it couldn’t be handled by humans. Instead, every Easton EC90 SLX is crafted by tiny gnomes that meticulously mold the tiny carbon nano tubes into a 350 gram wonder fork. Yes. 350 grams. That’s like the weight of two and a half boxes of fluffy soft tissues. The little guys with pointy hats raked the fork at 43mm for the perfect marriage of quick, yet precise handling and optimal comfort.

For an asking price of only $175, it could be the best gram saving/dollar investment you ever made on your bike. New EC90 SLX forks retail for around $450. This is practically a third of retail. In order to save you time and money at the shop, the steerer tube has been cut to 213mm. Just measure your set up closely, to make sure it’ll fit your ride. It already has it’s first cosmetic nick, (on Easton logo of right fork leg) so you will never have to worry about the next rock that gets kicked up by the wheel in front of you in the paceline. More than likely, you’ll be so fast; you’ll probably be well off the front riding solo anyway. It includes compression wedge for quick and accurate installation. All you really need to do is whine to your spouse about how much your current fork sucks, buy it and swap the crown race. If you’ve been kind to the guys at your local bike shop by feeding them donuts and bringing over 6-packs on Friday evenings, they’ll likely change over that crown race for free on the spot.

Toss your boat anchor overboard, buy this Easton EC90 SLX carbon road fork and put an end to your group ride embarrassment. Send me a message here.

More photos here. Easton specs here.

Monday, January 11, 2010

The Top 10 Reasons My Jamis Xenith Sold

American Idol Taylor Hicks once touched it and said, "I gotta get me one of these!" No kidding.

It can weigh 15.56 pounds if you build it up with Sram Red, Zipp wheels and carbon bottle cages, all of which I am keeping for myself. ;)

It’s been ridden on the foreign cobblestones of...uh...Covington, Kentucky.

It placed 7th twice in Cat 3 road races, once in a breakaway and once in a bunch sprint. Yippie!

Unlike those pesky Trek Madone's that some ride, I was never severly injured on it.

If you like the Cincinnati Bengals or Halloween, it’s your favorite colors!

It also looks good with white bar tape for at least 3 days.

It can deliver a killer leadout so your Cat 2 teammate can snatch up that one 4th place point instead of a big cow-legged dude in a green and white kit.

If you have legs bigger than mine, you might be able to stick a heroic solo breakaway attempt like this:

It makes getting dropped from the lead group while suffering in a 95 degree July race a tiny bit better. See article below for details on how you can get your sweaty fanny on this incredibly gifted and blessed bike.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

SOLD: Jamis Xenith Pro Road Bike

2006 Jamis Xenith Pro 54cm Carbon Ultegra Road Bike
Asking $1000

Black with Orange Panels and White & Silver Stripes
Weight: 16.25lbs (as pictured)
Fork: Jamis branded Easton EC70 Carbon (like new condition)
Wheels: Mavic Kysrium SSC SL

Levers: Shimano Ultegra 9sp
Cranks: Shimano Ultegra
Bottom Bracket: Truvativ
Rings: Shimano Ultegra 53/39
Chain: Dura Ace (new in ’09)
Brakes: Shimano Ultegra (lots of pad left)
Fr Derailuer: Shimano Ultegra (braze on)
Rr Derailuer: Shimano Ultegra 9sp
Cassette: Shimano Ultegra 9sp 12/25

Saddle: Fizik Aliante (new in ’09)
Stem: Ritchey WCS
Headset: FSA IS2 Integrated
Bars: Easton EA70
Tape: Fizik
Seatpost: Thompson
Tires: Vittoria Fortezza Blue Sidewalls/Black Tread
Skewers: E3 Systems Carbon QR

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Will Trade Glock 9mm for Carbon Bike

I busted though XT and Avid boxes, greasy grocery bags and tackled every plastic tote. I scoured the man-cave slash bike workshop looking from my Ultegra road brakes. I found three third eye chain keepers and 4 boxes of Onza Chill-pill cantilever brake cable hangers, but no road brakes. “Ugh,” I half shouted, wondering if my wife and cats upstairs heard me. I thought the man-cave slash workshop was organized. Old parts reside in one of two places: the big blue bin of lost causes and the old yellow toolbox of possible resurrection. I even called two friends that I had sold stuff to in the past two years asking if maybe I sold them the brakes. They were no where to be found. Then I remembered, I had pulled together a bunch of old parts into a drive-train package and put ‘em up on EBay. Stupid. Stupid! STUPID!!

A while back, I upgraded my Ultegra equipped Jamis Xenith Pro road bike with Sram Red. Then cyclocross season rolled around. So the Sram Red shifters, cranks and rear derailuer made the leap to the CX rig. Now, I have a new road frame on order, a Kuota KOM. Before it arrives, I had hoped to put the old Ultegra back on the Xenith and get it cleaned up ready to sell. I found the chain rings and front derailleur, but no brakes. “Now what,” I burst out alone in the garage! “I’m gonna have to buy brakes in order to sell a bike? That sucks,” intentionally loud enough hoping my wife would swing the door open and say, “what sucks honey?” Even if I found something used, I’d be out 40, 50, 60 bucks. Oh well. With the majority of my friends being cyclists, I put a note up on Facebook:

Joe: is looking for bike parts. Need a set of used road bike brakes. Whatcha got that you'd sell/trade me. Nothing special. Ultegra/Tiagra......'04'05 or newer.

Sure enough I got a line on some used Dura Ace from Ryan. Woot, but I’m not the type to turn the negotiating screws on a friend. He’s a good guy. There was no way I could give Ryan only $40 for Dura Ace brakes.

Then I saw Marty’s post about how his coffee maker broke:

Martin: new coffee maker broke on me. :(

He was apparently heartbroken and sad. You know how Facebook is. Everything appears to be either a complete triumph or tragedy. “Little Jimmy used the toilet for the first time!” “Going to the dentist…ugh.” “My coffee maker broke…Armageddon!” As luck would have it, I had a brand new Cuisinart 12 cup coffee extravaganza just sitting in a box in the kitchen. No kidding. Marty's world would be saved. We received it as a gift. It was very cool, but the no-carafe coffee-tapper design didn’t work for us. But, it’d be perfect for someone who loves coffee all day.

I sent Marty a message and attached a photo:

I have a brand new in the box Cuisinart programmable auto shut Black/Stainless 12 cupper that I'd sell ya. It's like a coffee tapper. No carafe. It brews into a reservoir and then you hit a lever to dispense into your cup. Kinda cool. They go for like $80. Make me an offer.

Marty: lemme see if i can round you up some brakes..?? ;) lol

Joe: I'd do that trade. Seriously.

LOL indeed. The deal was done. He got the Cuisinart I got the Ultegra. Straight up. That got me thinking. I wonder if anyone else has pulled off goofy bike part trades. I put it out to the FB Fans of the blog. Jason posted he once traded handlebars for a bottle of wine. Cycles Gladiator perhaps? Then Eric blew me away. He knows someone who traded a Felt road frame for a Glock 9mm handgun. Unlike Marty and I, I sure hope that transaction wasn’t made in the lobby at work.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

The Toe Fist Revisited (Keeping Feet Warm for Winter Rides)

The Toe Fist article has been updated. It was originally posted in January '09. Since Then, the formula for keeping your feet warm on winter bike rides has been tweaked with a grocery bag layer between booty and shoe, not over the foot itself. Putting the bag over the foot has the potential for cutting off needed circulation, not to mention, makes for a slippery feel inside the shoe.

It's taken me about 15 years of white bloodless cold on-the-brink of frostbite bitten toes to figure out a process of getting dressed to keep my feet from turning into lifeless bricks on cold winter rides. It is much more effective than dancing like Beyonce’ on the side of the road. I’ve got friends who insist on a number of other comical solutions, like putting Saran wrap on their forefeet. After trying it, evening using the red color thinking it’d be hotter, I’m come to the conclusion that I’m not into the Saran Wrap foot fetish. It doesn’t solve the real problem and disrupts the foot-sock-shoe-pedal connection too much. Chemical toe warmers and foot beds work, but they are only a variable in the happy feet equation and require air to keep working their magic. The real key to keeping your feet warm in the winter is maintaining good blood flow in your piggies. It’s science dammit!! Everything else is just icing. Dedicated winter cycling shoes work fine, but snug them or regular cycling shoes up too tight and no amount of SIDI Italian leather goodness is going to get your core body heat to reach the ends of your pistons. So how do you keep air in your shoe and avoid cutting off your circulation? The toe fist my friend…the toe fist.

Prior to putting my feet in my shoes, I make a fist with my toes and then lightly cinch up the straps/laces. Combine this with some or all of the other bright ideas out there, even dancing and singing the chorus to “Single Ladies” and you’ll be golden. The downfall is that, well duh, your shoes aren’t on tight. However, you’re not trying to win a summer crit sprint or make the holeshot at the local MTB series. I have tested my theory through cyclocross season and on both road and mountain bike rides this winter, works every time. The longest ride I’ve had so far has been nearly 3 and a half hours, plenty for winter. Cinder block feet are no longer the reason I start heading home. Chances are some other ailment will get me first; such as being too out of shape to ride more than 3 hours, frozen water bottles or my suspension fork busting a seal.

Here’s how I get dressed for winter and implement the foot fist technique using embrocation, winter cycling underwear, Toastie Toes and winter booties.

1 Starting naked, grab your warm weather cycling underwear, a towel, your cold & wet conditions cycling embrocation and your thickest warmest newest winter hiking style socks. Go to the bathroom. I don’t mean just go there, go there and do your business. Trust me this is the best step one ever.

2 Next, don warm weather cycling underwear. This is the best step 2 ever.

3 Standing on the towel in your skivvies apply embrocation on your legs, feet, toes, forearms. Use whatever is left on your lower back. It’ll feel like magic fingers mid-ride. I won’t get into all the details with embrocation, but there’s a reason you put on underwear and went to the bathroom first. There are few things in life more painful than accidently causing your junk to catch fire in the middle of nowhere because you dredged your underwear through burning hot chili-pepper embrocation an hour earlier. Do yourself a favor, when you’re finished wash your hands with soap and keep your hands off the giblets, out of your eyes and away from other tender areas for a while.

4 Put on those socks. Affix your Toastie Toes if you got ‘em.

5 Put on the rest of your winter cycling related gear except for your shoes.

6 Put on your cycling shoes, but do not lace or buckle.

7 Make the biggest fist you can with your foot inside the shoe.

8 Starting with the one closest to your toes and with your toe still in fist mode do all the straps and buckles on your shoes. You should be able to wiggle your piggies inside your shoe and your shoe should be relatively secure on your foot.

9 Repeat with the other shoe.

10 Put a plastic grocery bag over each shoe and lightly wrap the excess around your ankles.

11 Put on your warm winter weight cycling booties and tuck the excess bag into your bootie.

Ride my friend. Ride. Unless you’re in freaking Siberia, Alaska or somewhere north of the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, you feet will no longer be the reason you come home from a winter bike ride.